08-23-2012, 12:49 AM
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Since roughly the time we came down from the trees, humans have been worried about how other people see them - in short, how well groomed we are. And while the standards we been holding each other to in regards to hair care and general hygiene have fluctuated over the ages, it seems that the desire men have to scrape the beard off is timeless.

Perhaps it has to do with perceived status - by taking the time to trim your beard you showed everyone who saw you that you had an excess off time; which presumably translated into having an excess of resources in general. And since fashions spread quickly, soon everyone was wanting to take their beard off - creating a market for clam shells, finely made obsidian blades and some time later metal blades made expressly for dragging across downy cheeks.
[Image: Rasoir_Acy-Romance.jpg]
A early bronze razor from the Hallstatt culture which seems to me to be modeled on a flint blade with a handle - a wonderful piece of craftsmanship

Presumably the first metal razors were status objects by themselves; it seems several of them had holes so they could hang on a string or necklace. The proles still probably used flint blades or went unshaven... possible either complaining loudly or claiming just as loudly that the ones who could afford to shave were a bunch of pansies. Human nature change very little...
Later, as razors got more common they also got more utilitarian. If everyone own s one there is no need to flaunt the fact, so it seems to me that razors got reduced to the bare essentials; a half moon shaped blade:

[Image: Magdalenenberg_cut_and_shave.jpg]
A more utilitarian bronze razor (and nail trimmer) from the Hallstatt culture.

[Image: Razor.jpg]
Slightly more fancy half moon razors - Italy, 8-7 century BC

[Image: uc40660.jpg]
Or more fancy axe shaped ones - like this ancient Egyptian razor from the Harageh tomb 661, dating to the First Intermediate Period - approx 2181 to 2055 BC

[Image: ART354112.jpg]
The shave of a Pharaoh - an evolved axe shaped bronze razor from the time of Amenophis II or III - approx 1426 to 1353 BC

[Image: Irminsul3.jpg]
How about a Scandivian bronze razor from the 2 century BC - the depicted ship on it a clear predecessor to the Viking longships?

As metallurgy progressed we got the steel razors, then the cut throat razor and finally the modern safety razor... but I still can't help to wonder what it would be to pick up an bronze instrument like one of these to get the stubble of my face.

I wonder if anyone sells working replicas... ?

This post contains pictures from Wikipedia and other online sources.

3 6,508
 08-23-2012, 08:27 AM
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I believe someone does. IIRC.

How do historians know that those were used for shaving though? I've always been curious about that, but have taken them at their word.

9 3,072
 08-23-2012, 08:37 AM
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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I say, whatever was sharp enough was used to cut hair and/or meat for dinner Biggrin

88 4,233
 08-23-2012, 08:47 AM
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I'll pass on the "sharp" edge of a bronze razor. Flint would make a good shaving edge.

Hans I wonder if not a predecessor of a long ship, could it be a stylized long ship? Or it could be a reminder... "Don't forget to put this on the ship.".

32 6,574
 08-23-2012, 09:44 AM
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I found references to using obsidian blades for shaving on Easter Island... would be scary sharp.

As for these being meant for shaving... looking at the shape there is little else they can have been for, added to the fact that they have only been found alongside buried males. So I guess I'll take the experts words for it.

Brian, the image is way too early to be a longship; the longship didn't come into excistance until sometimes after 600 AD - a distinguishing feature of the longship is the keel and the rigging. The image on the blade is from about the same time as the Hjortespring boat, and it's a close match for the ships / boats depicted in many Scandinavian petroglyphs. the first known boat / ship with a primitive keel we know of in Scandinavia is the Kvalsund ship, dated to 690±70 AD. Off course by that time even Scandiavia had stumbled into the iron age...

I know a bronze razor would make a poor edge compared to what we have available today.. but it's still interesting and would be fun to try - once Tongue

3 6,508
 08-23-2012, 09:56 AM
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I think the mead required for anaesthetic would be more fun than the actual shave. But I bet they also had a much different idea of what a close shave was also. I bet a BBS wasn't even on their radar screen.

32 6,574
 08-23-2012, 10:01 AM
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(08-23-2012, 09:44 AM)WegianWarrior Wrote: I found references to using obsidian blades for shaving on Easter Island... would be scary sharp.


There are a few videos on YouTube of a guy using obsidian to shave. I can't search YouTube at the moment, but it's pretty easy to find them.

It does seem that the shards are really sharp.

38 1,750
 08-23-2012, 10:40 AM
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
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I'm glad the razor progressed beyond those razors. Thanks for sharing.

1 3,507
 08-23-2012, 07:59 PM
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(08-23-2012, 10:40 AM)Howler Wrote: I'm glad the razor progressed beyond those razors. Thanks for sharing.

+ infinity Sheesh, can you imagine shaving with some of those things, everyday?!

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